Court clerks are jerks in Montgomery County

We have too many clerk of courts in Montgomery County. We have too many courts too.

In the entire state of Wisconsin and Florida, there is one universal courts website. All cases, criminal, civil, probate, are managed in one place. They have one login per attorney, one set of forms, one set of fees, one set of processes- making it easy-peasy for attorneys to do their job. This also makes it easier for news organizations, background checkers, and for people who are trying to keep track of legal precedents and case law (like LexisNexis and Westlaw).

It’s also a hell of a lot more cost effective. We’ve been digging into the costs of the court websites in Montgomery County- and have gotten graceful help from some communities when we’ve filed public records requests, others have played dumb.

You can see the costs of each municipal court website on Reconstructing Dayton, our 501(c)(4) that is set up to research and then inform voters how their tax dollars and time are being wasted by unnecessary duplication and complication of and by government in Montgomery County.

You’ll see that Kettering and Miamisburg use the vendor case management system, Civica CMI from the firm of the same name in Englewood.

Vandalia Municipal Court uses a case management system from Henschen & Associates, Inc. in Bowling Green Ohio.

Oakwood, Dayton, Montgomery County Municipal, and Dayton Municipal have all been non-responsive. We’ll be filing complaints about their failure to respond to public records requests soon.

The insane thing is that none of these systems allow for online filing, or online case management and research. I just got a scan of the snail mail judgement that was mailed to my attorney in a case where a local harlot stole money from a Service Disabled Veteran that I had power of attorney for. That means anyone doing a background check, won’t find it, at least until we get the judgement recorded in Montgomery County Common pleas court. The fact that it can’t be accessed online other than a list of actions is criminal.

Screen shot of the Montgomery County Ohio lame court efiling website portal

It’s 2018 and this is the best they can do?

The County Clerks site is a home grown mess with its multiple domains. “ProNet” is one part and it’s efiling another, managed by Tybera out of Orem Utah, but it at least allows for online filing for civil and criminal cases, but not for probate or juvenile cases.

It’s time for a unified system in Ohio, but, we can start with working on it here. Franklin County has a single site– including their single countywide municipal court – which may be part of the reason Columbus is growing, and we’re losing congressional representation (among other things).

Which leads us to the people who “run” these courts. Mark Owens has been the Dayton Clerk of Courts since 1991. In that time, he has seen the rise of the internet, but still hasn’t made the effort to provide an efficient web filing system. Maybe, because it helps create work for the 45 patronage jobs he presides over. Mark is the godfather of the local Montgomery County Democratic Party too. He needs more people, because, well, they have to print out and mail all these documents- something that’s been done away with in the County Common Pleas court.

And, now, we’re asked to vote for his Chief Deputy Clerk, Russ Joseph, who was appointed by Mark and the Central Committee to take over the County Clerk job when Greg Brush “retired” to go work in Cincinnati for their Clerk of Courts. It helps to be an appointed incumbent running for office, even if you’ve spent 10 years not moving the Dayton Clerks office into the twentieth century. He was appointed Nov 20, 2017, he has to be on the ballot this November – and is facing Republican businessman Mike Foley, to run for the remaining 2 years of the current term.

Russ previously served with the Dayton Municipal Clerk of Court from 2004 to 2017, first as the Administrative Assistant for three years and then as Chief Deputy Clerk for 10 years. As Chief Deputy Clerk, he oversaw the office’s $3.6 million annual budget and 45 employees. This included the Clerk’s four divisions as well as administrative staff including the Chief Information Officer, Accountant and Director of Operations.

In 2008 Russ was named the Deputy Clerk of the Year by the Ohio Association of Municipal & County Court Clerks. Russ currently serves as a Trustee for the Southwestern Ohio Municipal Court Clerks Association where he’s been a member since 2004. He’s also a member of the National Association for Court Management and the Ohio Association of Municipal & County Court Clerks.

…He is also a Certified Court Manager, having completed a multi-year program through the National Center for State Courts Institute for Court Management and the Judicial College of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Source: About

All that experience, and not a massive move to consolidate and simplify the clerks sites throughout the county. His site makes no promises of implementing change, just, vote for me, I’m great, and btw- here’s a list of my fundraisers and that I raised a bunch of money.

This is incompetence.

As a builder of websites, I can tell you that it would be very easy to have one integrated county wide site, even with different front ends for each municipality. We do this all the time with open source content management systems. Unfortunately, politicians with a degree in “Sociology & Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Environmental Science” missed anything about running a business or computer science.

We’re working on a campaign to bring this issue to the forefront, not just in Montgomery County, but statewide. If you are an attorney, a bill collector, an investigative reporter or anyone else that has to interface with this horrific mishmash of bad websites and inept clerks, and would like to support forcing the simplification and consolidation of online clerks sites in Ohio, please consider making a donation to Reconstructing Dayton. Because we are a 501(c)(4) your donation can remain entirely anonymous.

It’s time to get clerks that aren’t jerks in office and doing their job effectively.

First Montgomery County countywide citizen initiated referendum in the works

Reliable sources have informed Esrati.com that former Republican Party chairmen, Greg Gantt and Rob Scott are working together to write a referendum and collect the necessary 14,583 voter signatures to put the recently approved sales tax increase to the test on the November ballot.

The .25% sales tax increase was rushed through the county commission in a closely choreographed series of hearings where everyone and their mother who sucks at the county teat, got up and spoke in support of raising the sales tax.

The County Clerk of Courts Russ Joseph said we need it. He didn’t bother to mention that the stupid system of multiple municipal courts with their own clerks, staff and websites is a giant waste of money in Montgomery County– nor did he suggest ways to streamline government and save money.

The people from the “PreSchool Promise” came out in support also. An organization with ZERO public oversight, huge ad budgets, that exists to give public tax dollars to private companies running glorified day cares in many cases.

The list goes on.

The task of getting that many valid signatures stops most referendums on issues like this, as does the difficulty of writing acceptable ballot language. This is why we have so much overlap and duplication in government in Montgomery County.

Once the language is approved, petitions have to be circulated and then turned in at least 90 days before the November 6, 2018 election.

The tax increase is currently scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2018. No word on if the petitions are submitted that the hike would be delayed. The cost to retailers of having to implement the new rate should be considered by the County- and they should delay their action until after the issue has been decided once the petitions are approved.

This country was founded because of taxation without representation. To put this tax hike to the voters is the correct action.

The Republican lie about purging voter rolls in Ohio

The entire system of voter registration in the state of Ohio is a joke, as are the processes to get on the ballot, start a voter driven initiative and to change the State Constitution. We have local “Board of (S)Elections” that are run by the two political parties for their own edification. We have multiple voter registration databases instead of one, we have different tabulation systems and even different voting machines. Nothing talks to anything smoothly, and there is no standard system.

sample canadian ballot

Paper ballots, with standardized design, marked clearly.

As if the fiasco in 2000 in Florida with the “Butterfly ballots” wasn’t enough to tell us that we may have some fundamental problems with the way we manage our elections.

Compare the last ballot you filled out- to what the standard is for all of Canada. There is no question of who, or what you are voting for. The registration system is also national, not local. The real question is why is removing people from voter rolls so critical? Is it because of voter fraud? We’ve not seen any evidence of that (except Dr. Adil Baguirov and his business partner who were allowed to vote from a place they didn’t live- without consequence or investigation) I once identified something that looked like we had a problem with our voter database in Montgomery county- but no one seemed to care.

So now, our method of purging voters has made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which is absolutely fascinating, because, I have proof (I’m saving it for the end) that the purge of voters isn’t about anything but keeping voters away from the polls, limiting elections to the party faithful (the Monarchy of Montgomery County etc.) and nothing else.

In a spirited argument on Wednesday (Jan. 10, 2018), the Supreme Court appeared deeply divided over whether Ohio may kick people off the voting rolls if they skip a few elections and fail to respond to a notice from state officials.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Ohio’s approach effectively disenfranchised minority and homeless voters in the state’s major cities and was part of a broader effort to suppress voting.

“All of these impediments result in large numbers of people not voting in certain parts of the state,” she said.

But Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer expressed concern about maintaining the integrity of the state’s list of eligible voters.

“The reason they’re purging them,” Justice Kennedy said, “is they want to protect the voter rolls from people that have moved.”…

Ohio is more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls. After skipping a single federal election cycle, voters are sent a notice. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are purged from the rolls.

A few other states use similar approaches, but not one of them moves as fast. “Ohio is the only state that commences such a process based on the failure to vote in a single federal election cycle,” said a brief from the League of Women Voters and the Brennan Center for Justice. “Literally every other state uses a different, and more voter-protective, practice.”

Source: Supreme Court Weighs Purge of Ohio Voting Rolls – The New York Times

At the exact time this was going on, I received an automated piece of mail from the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts (the office Russ Joseph was just anointed to) addressed to my dead father (Aug 18,2016) asking him to report for Jury Duty.

One would think that when a death certificate is filed with county, that record would clearly be used to purge the voter rolls and the DMV registrations. Looking up my dad at both the state and local level, he’s not in the voter database, so how is he being called for Jury duty?

Must be his drivers license, which should have been terminated as well. Of course, when going to vote, a state issued ID is mandated, so wouldn’t it be appropriate to remove that record as well?

Being the dutiful son, I went to the website and filled out the questionnaire to request he be excused. He qualified because of his age, but- I made sure to fill in a reason he couldn’t serve “Because I am dead, Aug 18, 2016).

Imagine my surprise a week later when I got the form letter to the dead guy- that he was excused from Jury duty. Why thank you Russ Joseph.

Maybe it’s time Ohio stopped entrusting the voter rolls and DMV records to incompetents.

That may go a long way to stopping the argument about purging voter registrations without involving the Supreme Court.

The Petty Party of Montgomery County

At 7:00 p.m. tomorrow, January 13, the executive committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party will meet to decide the fate of one of their long-time leaders.

Normally, yours truly wouldn’t be invited to this kind of meeting, but they don’t have a choice. I was duly elected precinct captain, and when the 5 precinct captains of the first ward met, 2 others who have been wronged by the party over time, graciously opted to vote for me, providing a 3-2 selection as the Ward leader and automatic inclusion on the Central Committee. Note- this doesn’t get me on the screening committee- which is only for those who either have sworn a blood oath, or been elected and are in control of patronage jobs which are handed out like candy to people they then use to fill in the open precinct seats- to make sure they control who runs for office.

The two who fell from grace- former county auditor, judge and mayoral candidate, A.J. Wagner, and current school board member Joe Lacey- who tried to run for state rep and wasn’t endorsed. The two who voted against me- Russ Joseph, brother of Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph and heir apparent to party chair, and current Dayton Clerk of Courts, Mark Owens, and Judge Daniel Geheres’ son.

Tomorrow night, the secret society is meeting in private to decide if they should put former Dayton Mayor, daughter of the all powerful C.J. McLin, State Senator Rhine McLin back on the Board of Elections- or should they find someone else to have the cushy job that pays $20K a year for two short meetings each month.

The Dems are mad at Rhine because she broke ranks and supported Wagner for mayor instead of her royal highness, Queen Nan.

Rhine sent all the central committee members a “Fellow Democrat” letter in December- asking for their support and stating her case.

For those of you who don’t know about the Board of [S]Elections – it’s an organization that is totally controlled by the two major parties- to run your elections. This is why third party candidates, independent candidates, and anyone who doesn’t kiss the party’s ass, runs a high risk of not making it to the ballot. Plus, it controls a bunch of patronage jobs- and grossly overpays the staff- especially the directors, one from each party. It gets a little confusing because the actual board is 2 Dems, 2 Republicans- yes- a virtual deadlock on every issue- that gets to hand over the deciding vote to Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican. The members of this board aren’t elected by the people, nor do they have oversight by the people- just Husted. That’s the way we like it in Ohio- ethics be damned.

Rhine has been in the seat for 2 years of a 3-year term- thanks to a deadlocked vote during the last presidential election, where Husted managed to get the 2 Dems, Dennis Lieberman (spouse of County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman and former party chair) and Tom Ritchie Sr.- regional director of AFSCME (a big public service union) kicked out of their jobs when they stood up to Husted on early voting hours.

The party picked Rhine and John Doll. Doll is a check-collecting, empty suit. McLin on the other hand threw herself into the job and is the only member who bothered to become a certified elections/registration administrator.

McLin is also a party legend. She’s currently vice chair of the Ohio Democratic Party (which isn’t quite as petty), vice-chair of the Mid-West Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, vice chair of the Mid-West Executive Committee of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, and the Mid-West Representative for the Black Caucus of the Democratic National Committee.

She also notes- “I have consistently donated to the Party.”

Face it- it’s pay to play on top of requiring a blood oath and major butt kissing.

Frankly, none of these people deserve to have anything to do with elections. Their idea of running people for office includes interviews that start out with the question “If we endorse someone else, will you drop out and work to get them elected” before petitions are even turned in.

I’ve run in 6 different counties- and no other county Democratic party endorses in primaries- that’s what the primary is for- for the voters of the party to decide whom they want to run for office- not 40 hand-selected members of the “Monarchy of Montgomery Party” to decide for them. They are patently undemocratic- and Rhine herself has benefited from this winnowing process for years. She’s as guilty as the rest of them- the only difference is while she was happy when Nan was her lap dog- when she was mayor- the moment Rhine lost to Gary Leitzel, she lost value to Nan, who along with Mark Owens and Karl Keith had taken over the party- kicking Lieberman to the curb. Now, Nan is a rabid dog, going after Rhine- her former mentor, out of spite- for Rhine recognizing that A.J. was the better man for the job than our monomaniacal mayoress. There are still deep divisions in the party- but, most are afraid to speak- for fear of losing their plum patronage job that either they- or their family members have thanks to their party loyalty.

This is the dirty secret of the Dayton Montgomery County Democratic Party. But, now you know.

And I’ll try to fill you in on what happens, despite me not really wanting to have anything to do with this disgustingly undemocratic process. In 2018, the party will once again elect new precinct captains- that’s when we may be able to organize, and re-populate the central committee with people who believe in democratic principles- instead of the self-anointed royal family we have now.

Introducing the 2014-2018 Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee

You may not know what the party central committee does- or why it’s important. This is the lowest of low political positions- it takes five signatures of party members in your precinct to get on the ballot, most run unopposed- and of the 360 seats less than a third are filled via election. It’s not a paid job, the party meets at least 6x a year and for the most part, you never get asked to do anything if you are a precinct captain.

The most important things the central committee, as run here, does- is nominate people to open seats- like when a state rep dies or goes to prison- notable heirs to seats via the party are Rhine McLin who became a State Rep this way, Fred Strahorn who got back into the State House when Clayton Luckie went to the big house (stealing campaign money) and putting people on the board of elections- as they just put Rhine McLin and John Doll on after Denis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie went toe-to-toe with the Secretary of State on keeping the polls open and losing.

That’s not how it’s supposed to be- the precinct captains should be the front lines of organizing the party faithful and informing them of issues, candidates and rallying voter turnout, but in Montgomery County- it’s mostly about making sure the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” continues their hold on their fiefdom. It’s the friends and family plan for politics.

After I exposed that many of the seats were held by people in patronage jobs in the last elected body– we had even fewer candidates running this time. And even some of the write in candidates forgot to vote for themselves- 19 of you just had to vote and write your name in to win- and you failed to do that.

Now, the seats that are open are available for appointment- and if some of you ask nicely- the powers that be may allow you to be on the committee (just don’t tell them you read about it here – or like me).  At the reorganization meeting, there were 115 elected, yet only 78 showed up. I taped the whole meeting so those of you who wonder what a Reorganization meeting looks like- can watch. With our crew- the number one thing is to vote as quickly as possible, with no discussion, no debate- and no challengers to the party. Dictators would love this organization.

Watch the video: (something garbled the video in the render- re-rendering now- and will reupload tomorrow night)

Former Congressional Candidate Mack Van Allen tried to change the constitution so that we’d elect in 2 year cycles instead of 4- since we had such low participation. This is how it’s done in Cincinnati, where one precinct this year had 5 candidates (we were lucky to even have one in most precincts). After some debate, the call for the vote was quick and held incorrectly- you can’t have both votes be Aye- and say the Ayes have it. While another precinct captain wanted to be recognized to speak- to point out many of the typos, inconsistencies in the soon to be accepted constitution- it was claimed that we’d already had discussion and it was time to vote- and that I need to read “Robert’s rules of order.” Then after the quick votes- we were sent to our wards to elect a ward leader- who is then on the “Executive Committee”- the group that meets in private before the public meeting and discusses who gets what seat and a chance to run. There is also a “screening committee” that picks who we should “endorse” in primaries- sort of negating the whole concept of primaries.

In Ward 1- 5 of the 6 elected precinct captains were in attendance. Judge AJ Wagner, Martin Gehres (son of Judge Gehres) Joe Lacey, Russ Joseph (brother of Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph, and wanna be next Dayton Clerk of Courts) and me. Joe nominated me to Exec- AJ seconded and Russ had to ask me- who do I vote for- and of course I said me- and I’m now in the exec room. Of course, Russ- as Clerk of Courts and Party Chair Mark Owens right hand- was in exec anyway as an appointment.

If you are interested in an appointment to the party- look up your precinct here: http://www.voterfind.com/montgomeryoh/vtrlookup.aspx

And then see if your precinct is open:

Precinctcaptain
Day 1-aAJ Wagner
Day 1-BJoe Lacey
Day 1-cMartin Gehres
Day 1-DDavid Esrati
Day 1-ETheresa Lea Whitley
Day 2-AYoussef Bahammi
Day 2-BVicki A Morris
Day 2-cMatthew R Cox
Day 3-FFrieda T Brigner
Day 3-H Mary Ellen Kuehne
Day 3-KDebra L Ownens
Day 4-ASamuel J Braun
Day 4-BSarah Jolie Zecchini
Day 5-ADavid K Greer
Day 5-BFred Strahorn
Day 5-cRichard C Green
Day 5-EBarara Jean Harris
Day 6-BStacey Benson-Taylor
Day 7-ARhine Lana McLin
Day 7-BStacy M Thompson
Day 8-AKarl L Keith
Day 8-cMitchell Dean Kearns
Day 8-DKeith J Belluardo
Day 9-cMatthew F Joseph
Day 12-ACatherine M Merkle
Day 13-ASusan R Martin
Day 13-B Jerome McCorry
Day 14-DWillis Blackshear Sr.
Day 15-BJohn R Smith
Day 16-ARichard Clay Dixon
Day 16-CSteven Samuel Brack
Day 16-DCreola Reese
Day 17-CLinda S McKenna
Day 18-ABetty Jane Owens
Day 18-BKimberly N Gaines
DAY 18-CHearther R Layne
Day 20-ANathan P Greaney
DAY 20-DThomas J Ritchie Sr
Day 20-CMarcia R Knox
Day 22-ASinthy Eugene Taylor
Day 22-bAnita L Andrews
Day 22-CAlvin Freeman
Day 23-ARussell M Joseph
BT-ADebra B. Armanini
BT-bKymberly Brush
BT-EWilliam N Davis II
VD-JSteve P Harsman
HAR-IChristine Kinter
HAR-JRoland Winburn
Har-LGuy Elsmire Jones
HUB 1-BLuicle J Dale
Hub 3-dGeorgia Hickey-Wolf
Hub 5-CDavid Lee Richards
Hub 6-BDavid P Fecke
Jef-BBrice C Sims
Jef-DLynn G Thomasson Sr.
KT 1-AKelly R Weinert
KT 1-ERonnie R Hall
KT 1-FKathy Lynn Williams
KT 1-GKevin G Crisler
KT 1-HNolan C Thomas
KT 2-BFredrick Schindler
KT3-ALawrence Kent
KT 3-BDavid B Dreety
Kt 3-FRoberta J Beyer
Kt 3-GRita D. Orlowski
KT 3-JMiriam K Maue
KT 4-ANancy K Enright
Kt 4-B Breanda C Wallen
Kt 4-CClaire D Mertzman
KT 4-DLousia S Dreety
KT 4-FNicolas D Gough
KT 4-HJohn J Murphy
KT 4-JJames T Ambrose
TR 1-AWanda M Adams (deceased)
TR 1-ENancy L Marino
TR 2-ASonya C Eggleton
TR 2-CSarah Vigina Clark
TR 2-DMartha Clark
TR 2-EDerrick E Turner Sr
TR 3-ABruce D Kettele
TR 4-BPatrick S Thomasson
RV-CWayne E Small
RV-DWilliam R Flaute
PMDavid C Owens
MIA-NLinda P Ford
MIA-OMark E Landers
WCR-GRenee Sheppard
MBG 2-BCharles F Bowling
Oak-ASteven C Byington
OAK-BNicholas G Gounaris
OAK EWard C Barrentine
OAK GCarol J Holm
P-NLB-ABetty L Bennington
CTN 1-BMat Heck Jr
CTN 1-CDennis A Leiberman
CTN 1-DSharon Lynn Hunter
CTN 3-AJames T Gorman
CTN 3-CGherly A Hart-Groff
UN-BRobin L Davis
WS-BKriss Gang
WS-HDouglas M Trout
WS-IBridget Oaks
WS-MStephen J Schlkers
WS-OPual S Robinson Jr
WS-RJohn R Doll
WS-SL Mack Van Allen
WS-VOlive A Kiley
WS-XBeverly A King
CV-CCharlotte M Vitali
CV-GStephen N Davis II
CV-HDavid Allen Saphire
CV-KMichael J Rice
CV-LLarry L Pierce
CV-OLee C Falke

Then ask the party chairman, Mark Owen, if you can fill the seat.

And, btw- this information has never been published on the party site- www.montgomerydems.org It’s one of my goals to improve the site.

And there is your short lesson in “democracy” – Montgomery County (Ohio) Democratic Party style.